Capeto­ni­ans salute Madiba at his­toric pa­rade

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013 - JA­NIS KIN­N­EAR, JAN CRONJE and PAIGE SUTHER­LAND

CAPE Town paid trib­ute to Nel­son Man­dela yes­ter­day with flow­ers, hand­writ­ten mes­sages, prayers, posts on web­sites, songs and silent con­tem­pla­tion.

Af­ter Pre­mier He­len Zille’s an­nounce­ment yes­ter­day that the Grand Pa­rade in front of City Hall would be the “pri­mary pub­lic space” for peo­ple to pay trib­ute to Man­dela in the city, hun­dreds of peo­ple con­verged, bear­ing South African flags, wear­ing ANC T-shirts and Man­dela rosettes.

The crowds sang and danced, wav­ing flags, as they waited for an in­ter­faith ser­vice in hon­our of Man­dela to start.

A bank of flow­ers and mes­sages of thanks, tributes and fa­mous Man­dela quotes were placed by Capeto­ni­ans in front of the City Hall bal­cony, where, in 1990, Man­dela gave his first pub­lic speech af­ter his re­lease from prison.

Some peo­ple at yes­ter­day’s event were present on Fe­bru­ary 11, 1990, when Man­dela ad­dressed tens of thou­sands of peo­ple af­ter al­most three decades of im­pris­on­ment on Robben Is­land.

Khayelit­sha res­i­dent Li­neo Mosehle, 53, car­ry­ing a South African flag, re­mem­bered that his­toric day 23 years ago when she waited in an­tic­i­pa­tion to catch sight of Man­dela and hear his mes­sage.

“It was a big day and we were all so happy. He told us to for­get our past and bind to­gether. He taught us to love each other and unite,” Mosehle said.

Pos­ing for a pho­to­graph with rows of wreaths was Afrika Prins, 48, and his son Ethan, 10.

Prins said he couldn’t be­lieve the coun­try’s first demo­crat­i­cally elected pres­i­dent had died.

When the news broke on Thurs­day night, Prins had been work­ing a night shift. He started mon­i­tor­ing the news on TV, opt­ing not to go to sleep.

Yes­ter­day he went to the city cen­tre to pay his re­spects to the man he be­lieves has been an “in­spi­ra­tion” to South Africans and the world.

Prins hoped that yes­ter­day’s pro­ces­sion, which in­cluded mes­sages and prayers by in­ter- faith groups, would move Capeto­ni­ans to bring an end to vi­o­lence in the city.

“I hope this day will open peo­ple’s minds in Cape Town to stop the vi­o­lence, killings and abuse of women and chil­dren,” said Prins.

A poster at­tached to the rail­ing in the trib­ute sec­tion read: “Pris­oner, pres­i­dent, fa­ther of our na­tion. We are for­ever grate­ful for your self­less sac­ri­fice for us as a peo­ple.”

Strug­gling to hold back her tears, Julinda Gan­tana, 43, ex­pressed her thanks, say­ing South Africa was so “blessed”.

“It is a free­dom we need to cher­ish and pro­tect. Even if you didn’t meet Madiba, his spirit just touches you and he in­spired most of us to bet­ter our­selves,” she said.

Se­sana Parks, 41, had brought along her four chil­dren and said her fam­ily rep­re­sented the “rain­bow” na­tion Man­dela fought for his whole life.

Wear­ing an ANC flag wrapped around her waist, Parks said she be­lieved the party once led by Man­dela could still “live out the ideals in the Free­dom Char­ter”.

Ad­dress­ing the crowd from the City Hall steps, Cape Town mayor Pa­tri­cia de Lille said it was “time for us to let him go”.

“We are all here tonight be­cause we are moved by some­thing larger than our­selves; that na­tional spirit that has some­times faded and some­times shone since 1994.”

Zille said the prov­ince would set up 160 Places of Trib­ute where peo­ple could write in con­do­lence books and leave flo­ral tributes.

“The Places of Trib­ute will pro­vide mem­bers of the pub­lic an op­por­tu­nity to write in the con­do­lences book and pay trib­ute to Madiba in a dig­ni­fied way,” she said.

All places are ex­pected to be open by this morn­ing.

At the Civic Cen­tre of­fi­cials said that by 3pm yes­ter­day more than 1 000 peo­ple had writ­ten tributes in the three of­fi­cial con­do­lence books.

PIC­TURE LEON LESTRADE

FOR YOU: Flow­ers placed in trib­ute to Nel­son Man­dela line the Grand Pa­rade yes­ter­day.

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